Salomėja Zaksaitė presented the practice of investigating manipulation of sports competition at a Conference on sports integrity in Rome, which was organised by the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS) of the Council of Europe and the Italian Department for Sport within the framework of the Italian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. At the outset of her presentation, the researcher indicated that the situation in chess and similar smaller sports federations appears to be stuck in the past, but she expressed hope that things were improving. Smaller federations’ limited research capacities were discussed. The International Chess Federation, for example, has no authority to require that laptops or mobile phones be handed over when investigating manipulations. In addition, the investigation is hampered by a lack of finances and personnel.
Even in such a condition, though, some answers can be found. One of options is to shift the burden of proof to the tournament organizers, asking them to show that the competition was not manipulated. If this isn’t done, the competition won’t be rated, and international norms won’t be granted. It’s critical to remember that in this case, the penalties can only be disciplinary rather than criminal. Another alternative is incriminating the abuse of the game. A step like this demands a lot less probative power.
As a metaphor for the presentation’s conclusion, the researcher used Leonardo da Vinci’s emergency bridge. She compared the situation to a bridge, which has no nails and ropes, but is still held together by gravity. Surprisingly, this illustration can be instructive: despite the lack of criminal justice functions, the chess community is on the right track, seeking to resist sports manipulation in creative ways.
Dr Salomėja Zaksaitė’s presentation can be viewed here (from 3:31:44 to 3:39:30 and question session from 4:05:50 to 4:26:24).